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   The only communist I have really known is Madhu Shetye... (August 29, 1991)

The only communist I have really known is Madhu Shetye. The last time I heard of him, he was working with the Link and Patriot. I do not know whether he is still there, because I do not know whether these two publications are still alive.

I knew him from the time when we were togethr in the Free Press. He had started as a proof-reader and risen to be a reporter, and, in case you do not know, it is more difficult for a proof-readerto become a reporter than for a reporter to becoem an editor.

He also became a muncipal corporator, standing and winning on a communist ticket. For a report to become a corporator is an achievement. You will say that Kanti Dhulla, another reports, is also a corporator, so what's the big deal! Kanti Dhulla is a Congress corporator, and any reporter who wants to become a Congress corporator, Murli Deora will make him straight off.

We were always short of reporters in the Free Press. If Ashwin Shah of The Sunday Observer is being decribed by the last of his surviving staff as stingy, then A.B. Nair, proprietor of the Free Press, was his great-grandfather. However, the point of this reference is that on account of the shortage is that on account of the shortage of staff, Madhu Shetye used to both attend the meetings of the Bombay municipal corporation as a member and cover them as a reporter. And, like all communists, since he was a frequent, long and winded speaker, the reports and headlines next morning were most of the time on his own speeches.

This may not be unethical, but it does seem somewhat unprofessional. However, different newspapers have different standards and compulsions and I do not wish to quibble about that. Also, the Bombay municipal corporation's meetings hardly have any cancity; they had little sanctity then and have less now…so, why worry!

I remember one incident distinctly. As a corporator, Madhu Shetye used to get a BEST pass. So the office decided to stop his travelling allowance. Did I mention that the management was stingy! There was a long battle over this, but eventually capitalism triumphed over petty bourgeoissism.

I think Madhu Shetye served more than one term as a corporaotr, but I am not sure of this. It appeared that he was in the corporation a long time, but when you are young, time passes slowly. It si only as you get older and want to hold on to your remaining days that time speeds up and gallops you towards your grave.

I do remember addressing at least one of his election meetings. It was at Grant Road, I addressed the electroate in my workman like Marathi that Madhu Shetye was a good collague and a good communist. That was the only time I praised the communist hardliners and I hope for that one ofference I am not now treated as a revisionist hardliner.

 
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